Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Tale of Two Headlamps

I learned my lesson after stumbling through the darkness on the PCT.

Carry 2 headlamps.

I left Mt. Katahdin with a Black Diamond Spot and a Princeton Tec Fuel.

Walking into Monson in a thunderstorm the Princeten Tec sputtered and died.

Despite being rated as waterproof. Despite me drying it and replacing the batteries it never worked again. Major bummer.

The Black Diamond Spot alone got me to Pinkham Notch, NH where I scanned their rack of headlamps (not many options). I finally chose a Princeton Tec Vizz because it was supposed to be completely waterproof and VERY bright.

It was indeed waterproof and very bright. However, it was also very heavy. It burned through batteries much faster than the advertised burn time. The multi-modes stopped working a week or so down the trail. By mid-Virginia the casing had cracked (despite me babying my headlamps) meaning I could no longer wear it.

Obviously, I didn't have time to find a PO and mail the broken one with an explanatory note to the company. So, I threw it out. When I got home and sent them a message explaining the situation: why I was dissatisfied and the reason for the delay in contacting them. I didn't ask for reimbursement or replacement.

I received a reply that in short said, "Too bad." That response irritated me more than two failed headlamps in two months. Companies that don't care about their customers enough to offer more than a form letter condolence do not get my business. The email closed with, "Next time, send us the broken one and we'll replace it." Sorry, but there won't be a next time, Princeton Tec. Your headlamps don't last and I certainly wasn't pleased with your customer service.

On the other hand, my Black Diamond Spot worked perfectly throughout the hike. It didn't gobble batteries like an insatiable dragon. The modes worked. The case didn't break under normal use. It didn't short out in a rainstorm. I can't comment on their customer service because this headlamp is so awesome I haven't needed it.

So there you go. The Tale of Two Headlamps (well, technically 3). I 100% recommend the Black Diamond Spot (or it's big brother the Storm which Adam uses). Princeton Tec? No way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

URSportswear Just Rock Shorts Review

I've been rocking the "Just Rock" shorts for a couple of years now and I absolutely love them. In fact they have a couple of new colors out...so I'll have to buy one of each!

Here's what I love:

  • The fit. They are a spandex short, but the most comfortable ones you'll ever wear. I don't feel like I'm in Spanx.
  • No ride up. That's right. The legs stay put. Thank God.
  • The colors. Peppy, bold, fun. It's what I look for in outdoor apparel (right after functionality).
  • Durability. I've taken these climbing indoors and out, on off-trail bushwhacking adventures, long runs, yoga, and trail hikes. They still look new.

What's not so great:

  • The sweat factor. When you're sweating hard it shows. If they come out with a darker color I bet it won't be as noticeable.
  • Dry time. While they stay comfortable even when wet I have noticed that they don't dry as fast as the uber thin running shorts.
  • Weight. They fabric isn't particularly lightweight. However, I think it's pretty standard or even a little lighter than most spandex.

Overall, I feel good when I wear them and they are highly functional. I highly recommend them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Injinji Socks Review

Once again I wore Injinji Run 2.0 Original Weight Mini-Crew on my AT thru-hike. This has been my go to sock for years in trail running, climbing, hiking, etc. I've never had a reason to wear anything else.

My array of socks pre-PCT...Lightweight wore out too fast

Some people can't handle the "something between my toes" feeling. For everyone else, try these. I never have between the toe blisters, even though some of my toes overlap. My feet stay comfortable and the fabric wicks well.

As I approached town the things I dreamed about more fervently than food were a new pair of socks and a new pair of shoes.

What I dreamt of...
I went through 8 pair of socks on the AT, but I wish I'd sent myself more. I think I went through 8 on the PCT and also wished for more. Next time I thru-hike I'll just send new socks to every town and my feet will be infinitely happy! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I've written extensively about the food I ate on the Appalachian Trail. Some people have asked about vitamins and supplements. The answer is, yes, I did take vitamins while on the trail. Although I did my best to eat a healthy and nutritious diet, the reality is that there isn't a lot of non-perishable, calorie dense fresh food options. Also, the demands being placed on me physically and mentally are over and above the norm.

For reference, I am not a big supplement taker. In daily life I use 3 supplements that are doctor directed to treat my personal medical problems. Those are Floravital to treat anemia, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B complex (for deficiencies in both). I also take fish oil or Flora's 7 Sources for additional Omega-3's during periods of high intensity training.

All supplementation should be considered with your health care professional.

For those that are curious, here are the supplements that I found to be critical to maintaining health on the AT (and the PCT). I chose these specific brands because I trust them to be of high quality. It's important to realize that the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA and therefore a company can put anything they want into them. This is why it is so important to do your research and discuss your plans with a knowledgeable professional.